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Mind's Energy Keeps Pain from Cancer under Control

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Alexander de Greve had beaten cancer in 1982 with radiation. But 11 years later, it returned.

He sat in his hospital room in Marietta, Ga., three tumors the size of his fist embedded in his stomach.

He had barely heard of reiki, he now says, smiling.

Over in Holland, a friend of de Greve's took action. She was a reiki master, meaning she believes she can heal almost by thought alone, and had gathered a dozen reiki colleagues.

"The more masters, the greater the intensity," says de Greve's mother, Beatrix.

The reiki masters envisioned themselves each surrounded by golden light, then pointed their hands toward Marietta, Ga., and sent reiki (defined as "universal life force energy") to de Greve. Reiki followers call it a "distance healing."

Thirty days later, the tumors were 10 percent of their size. Chemotherapy and more reiki obliterated the tumors' remains the following month. De Greve's doctor gave him a plaque that said "Miracle Patient."

Reiki did it, de Greve insists. And he's going to his grave believing in reiki.

The cancer came back twice more, and de Greve willed it away both times, using reiki and traditional medicine.

But now he has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, and his sister, an oncologist (tumor specialist), gives him until the end of July.

Among de Greve's final wishes is for more people to consider the dynamic powers of reiki. Some cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis patients commend reiki, to the point that many report complete cures. People recovering from surgeries report it helps them bounce back faster, too. And those less afflicted, drawn in by reiki masters' prayer-like demeanor, report everything from lower blood pressure to a greater passion for living.

"Most people think it's something abnormal or hocus-pocus," says de Greve, 49. "But if you give it a chance, it can only help you, it can't hurt you."

A lay person might deduce reiki as a cross between prayer and massage. The word comes from the Japanese rei, meaning spiritual consciousness, and ki, a person's energy (also known as chi or prana). Reiki energy flows from the practitioner into the client, supporters say.

Reiki teachers can improve their own health ("self-reiki") through a series of hand placements and learn to heal others, also through touch. More advanced practicers don't need contact; they just send their positive thoughts to another's soul, whether the receiver is a couple inches away or in another state or country, for a distance healing. De Greve has survived this long because of it, he says. It may not be the traditional medical route. But it works for him.

"When you're receptive to something, all things are more possible," he says, even as his prognosis darkens. Hospice visits twice a week, but other than needing 12 hours of sleep a night, he is alert, energized and was even driving himself around town until last week.

He refuses chemotherapy this time and shuns suggestions of a stem-cell transplant.

He doesn't like the odds the doctors quoted him. In 70 percent of the stem-cell cases, the cancer comes back, he says. That means more needles and more chemotherapy.

He prefers the non-invasiveness of reiki, and a better quality of life on Earth, even if that life is shortened.

"I just don't want any more needles," he says. So he quietly places his hands on his abdomen and uses self-healing reiki techniques to dissipate any pain. De Greve moved to southwest Fort Lauderdale in May 2002. He had been living in New Jersey for eight years, where he was a senior vice president of training and staff development. But after Sept. 11, 2001, the business went under, and he and his mother bought a house here, where he had hoped to be a partner in a new business. But it didn't pan out.

He never married.

"That's a blessing," says his mother, whose certainty in reiki's power is as strong as her son's. "Could you imagine a wife and children watching him have all these bouts with cancer?"

He spends his final days comforted by reiki and continues to learn. Three months ago, he attended two weekend seminars and has been to five or six such reiki gatherings during the past couple of years.

"Through reiki we can help ourselves, help others and even people who don't know they're being helped," says master-teacher Phil Vande-Riet, who trained de Greve and others in reiki for two weekends in March in Fort Lauderdale. The other students placed their hands on de Greve's tumors, and he was both a willing recipient and on-site training ground.

Vande-Riet learned reiki to treat his wife, Patricia, who had ovarian cancer. She was given anywhere from six months to 2 1/2 years to live, Vande-Riet says. She died Oct. 31, 1997, seven years after she was diagnosed.

But even Vande-Riet agrees that it may not always work.

"Some people won't react to it at all if they don't believe in it. A lot of it depends on where a person is at," he says.

De Greve receives reiki weekly from Paulette Peloquin, a master-teacher from Boca Raton. She caresses his crown, sending healing energy from her hands into his body. But most of reiki doesn't involve touch: So she holds her hands a couple of inches away from afflicted areas.

"It's a privilege to be part of his life as he makes this transition," says Peloquin, who uses other healing techniques, such as crystals, during her 2 1/2-hour weekly sessions.

De Greve says there's no way to know how many people are also comforting him with their distance healings, where strangers send good thoughts to those who need it. He is on the list for distance healings at reiki circles nationwide, as reiki masters and students send all the positive energy the telepathic air space will hold.

"I have a better quality of life this way," he says, and credits the reiki from keeping the cancer from spreading to a major organ. "I'm the only one who is in such a stage of cancer so advanced but still has no pain."

He rests on the couch, hands trembling. Doctors diagnosed him with Parkinson's disease just two months ago. Just one more thing, says de Greve, who has studied most religions and looks at his death as more of a "transition" than an exit.

He invokes some of his lessons as he evaluates what his life has been about, both before and after reiki.

"Cancer has brought me closer to many, many people," he says. "I'm very grateful for it for bringing me in touch with many wonderful people.

"It shouldn't be seen as an awful disease or a punishment. One should see that it brings something to your life that nothing else can."

He is giving away his computer and his bicycle and sold his Lexus last week. And he considers himself fortunate that he gets to have a hand on the controls as his own train leaves the station.

So he stamps his goodbye letters and places them in a folder near the front door. He writes out a to-do list for his mother, including a phone number for the crematory. He's doing it his way.


(c) 2003 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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